Saturday, November 26, 2011

Too lazy to be ambitious

Too lazy to be ambitious
by Ryokan

Too lazy to be ambitious,
I let the world take care of itself.
Ten days' worth of rice in my bag;
a bundle of twigs by the fireplace.
Why chatter about delusion and enlightenment?
Listening to the night rain on my roof,
I sit comfortably, with both legs stretched out.

Patience

Patience
by Tony Hoagland

'Success is the worst possible thing that could happen
to a man like you,' she said,
'because the shiny shoes, and flattery
and the self-
lubricating slime of affluence would mean
you’d never have to face your failure as a human being.'

There was a rude remark I could have made back to her right then
and I watched it go by like a bright blue sailboat
on a long gray river of silence,
watching it until it disappeared around the bend

while I smiled and listened to her talk,
thinking it was good to let myself be stabbed by her little spears,
because I wanted to see what I was made of

besides fear and the desire to be liked
by every person on the goddamn face of the earth —

To tell the truth, I felt a certain satisfaction in taking it,

letting her believe that I was just a little bird
opening my mouth and swallowing
the medicine she wanted to administer
— a mixture of good advice combined with slow-acting poison.

Is it strange to say that there was something beautiful
in the sight of her running wild, cut loose in an
epileptic fit of telling the truth?

And anyway, she was right about me,
that I am prone to certain misconceptions,

that I should never get so big or fat that I
can’t look down and see my own naked dirty feet,

which is why I kept smiling and smiling as she talked —.

It was a beautiful day. I felt like crying.

I knew that if I could succeed at being demolished,
I could succeed at anything.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How It Ends

How It Ends
by Andrea Gibson

It has been 3 years
10 months
And 27 days
Since the first time I saw you naked
Since the night you ripped off your shirt
Stuck your boobs in my face and said
Touch them
I touched them like a diabetic third grader opening a Snickers bar
You said
Hard
I thought, Yes I am
But you are so soft
I said, Your lips, they’re like whale blubber
That wasn’t my best line
But it worked

Tonight in the grocery store I found one of your hairs in my underwear
I pulled it out in the frozen foods section and screamed
That is so gorgeous it could kill a man!
Good thing I’m a leprechaun
Lucky…
Lucky…

Baby, I have no idea how this will end
Maybe the equator will fall like a hula hoop from the Earth’s hips
And our mouths will freeze mid-kiss on our 80th anniversary
Or maybe tomorrow my absolute insanity
Combined with the absolute obstacle course of your communication skills
Will leave us like a love letter
In a landfill

But whatever
However
Whenever this ends I want you to know
That right now
I love you forever

I love you for the hardest mile we walked together
For the day I collected every sharp knife in the house
And threw them one-by-one on the roof
And told the sun
Listen, show-off!
From now on, you better only give me blades of grass
Things that are growing and soft
‘Cause there’s this girl who says she wants to float on her back
Through my bloodstream
And when she does
I want my rivers to reach the sea

Do you hear me, lover?
Do you know the night you told me about a crush on my ears?
I swore to never become Van Gogh
And look, baby
They’re both still there
Just like my firefly heart is still right there in your glass jar
I never trusted anybody more to poke enough holes in the lid

So in the nights you sleep like a ballerina
I try to snore like a piccolo
And I press my lips to your holy temples
And I say
I crash into things in the dark
Even when the lights are on
And I am wrong more often than I am writing
And even then I am often wrong

But when my friends are in the bathroom at the bar
Rolling dollar bills into telescopes and claiming they can see God
I will come to you
Holding my grandmother’s Bible
I will press it to your chest
And I will bless it with your breath
And when you ask if I want to role-play altar boys fucking in the church kitchen during Sunday mass
I will say, Hell yes
But only if you leave a hickey on my ass in the shape of Jesus’ palm
So I can be sure I got nailed
Down

Lover, you will never lose me to the wind
You are the lightning that made me fill my chest with candles
You are the thunder clapping for the poem that nobody else wants to hear
You are an icicle’s tear
Water in a tulip on the first day of spring
You melt me alive
You kiss me deep as my roots will reach and I want nothing more
Than to be an eyelash fallen on your cheek
A thing collected by your fingers
And held like a wish
I promise whatever I do
I will always try my best
To come true

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Summer Day

The Summer Day
Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Journey

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fruits and Vegetables

Excerpt from Fruits and Vegetables
by Erica Jong

1

Goodbye, he waved, entering the apple.
That red siren,
whose white flesh turns brown
with prolonged exposure to air,
opened her perfect cheeks to receive him.
She took him in.
The garden revolved
in her glossy patinas of skin.
Goodbye.

2

O note the two round holes in onion.

3

Did I tell you about
my mother’s avocado?
She grew it from a pit.
Secretly, slowly in the dark,
it put out grub-white roots
which filled a jelly jar.
From this unlikely start,
an avocado tree with bark
& dark green leaves
shaded the green silk couch
which shaded me
throughout my shady adolescence
There, beneath that tree
my skirt gave birth to hands!
Oh memorable hands of boys
with blacked-out eyes
like culprits
in the National Enquirer.
My mother nursed that tree like all her children,
turned it around so often
towards the sun
that its trunk grew twisted
as an old riverbed,
& despite its gaudy leaves
it never bore
fruit.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

To Lou Andreas-Salome

To Lou Andreas-Salome
by Rainer Maria Rilke

I held myself too open, I forgot
that outside not just things exist and animals
fully at ease in themselves, whose eyes
reach from their lives' roundedness no differently
than portraits do from frames; forgot that I
with all I did incessantly crammed
looks into myself; looks, opinion, curiosity.
Who knows: perhaps eyes form in space
and look on everywhere. Ah, only plunged toward you
does my face cease being on display, grows
into you and twines on darkly, endlessly,
into your sheltered heart.

As one puts a handkerchief before pent-in-breath-
no: as one presses it against a wound
out of which the whole of life, in a single gush,
wants to stream, I held you to me: I saw you
turn red from me. How could anyone express
what took place between us? We made up for everything
there was never time for. I matured strangely
in every impulse of unperformed youth,
and you, love, had wildest childhood over my heart.

Memory won't suffice here: from those moments
there must be layers of pure existence
on my being's floor, a precipitate
from that immensely overfilled solution.

For I don't think back; all that I am
stirs me because of you. I don't invent you
at sadly cooled-off places from which
you've gone away; even your not being there
is warm with you and more real and more
than a privation. Longing leads out too often
into vagueness. Why should I cast myself, when,
for all I know, your influence falls on me,
gently, like moonlight on a window seat.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rose: Love in Violent Times

You can’t change the world, but you can make it a better place. You can be healthy, loving, compassionate, and sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. You can have daily life practices that bring small happinesses. You can you do your best to consciously live without perpetrating violence. You can bring comfort and love to the people around you. You can listen and hold yourself accountable. You can trace your unconsidered beliefs and value judgments and figure out if they really serve the person you are today. You can learn when and how to fight. And you can protect your izzat and other people’s too.

If you think of yourself as a plant, all of these things make you strong and help you to thrive. When you’re a plant, you can’t do anything about storms, freezes and blights. All you can do is make yourself strong so that in the event that you are suddenly at the mercy of something bigger than you, well, hopefully the strength you have cultivated in yourself and your life is enough to see you through.

All this has a lot to do with love, and the dictionary kind.

There are many important loves in this life. There is the love between friends. Sexual love should never usurp friend love. But there are lots of other loves around us, some we may or may not see. Your neighbors benefit from your love. Nothing’s stopping you from cooking up a double recipe of lasagna and taking it over to one of your neighbors once in a while. The kids running around the neighborhood sure could use a bowl of that watermelon you just cut up, leaving plenty for you and your family. Perfect strangers enjoy your love when you help them load their groceries in the rain, when you let them ahead of you into your lane, when you stop for them so they can cross the street. Lordisa, the birds, squirrels, raccoons, deer and bees love you when you hook them up with sustenance. People bitch about raccoons, but did you know they love cat and dog food a big bag of cheap pet food will keep the raccoons out of your space and away from your pets better than any gun or trap. In love, though, that’s not your motivation for feeding them. In love, you feed the raccoons because you honestly want what’s best for them.

Call this a karmic investment, if you wish. This still traces back to selfish motivations, but if you think of loving the people and the world around you as a way of protecting yourself against things that are bigger than you, it would suffice. I like to think of loving the world as putting into and out of myself exact reflections of the world I want to live in.

And it makes me happy to know that the hummingbirds and crows are fed and that the kids are laughing with watermelon juice running down their sticky faces and arms.

There are so many bigger realities that bring pain and anger that I’ve learned to seek out small joys every day. It is one of the greatest forms of self-defense I know.

Inga Musico

rose: love in violent times (2010)

chapter 7, defending the home front.

p. 219 – 220

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lead

Lead
by Mary Oliver


Here is a story
to break your heart.
Are you willing?
This winter
the loons came to our harbor
and died, one by one,
of nothing we could see.
A friend told me
of one on the shore
that lifted its head and opened
the elegant beak and cried out
in the long, sweet savoring of its life
which, if you have heard it,
you know is a sacred thing,
and for which, if you have not heard it,
you had better hurry to where
they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one
just where that is.
The next morning
this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home
to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Reckless Poem

Reckless Poem
by Mary Oliver

Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.
It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves – you may believe this or not –
have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers
somewhere
deep in the woods,
in the reckless seizure of spring.
Though, of course, I also know that other song,
the sweet passion of one-ness.
Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the
tumbled pine needles she toiled.
And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.
And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
is she not wonderful and wise?
And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything
until I came to myself.
And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand,
I have flown from the other window of myself
to become white heron, blue whale,
red fox, hedgehog.
Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower!
Sometimes already my heart is a red parrot, perched
among strange, dark trees, flapping and screaming.